COS columnist Tom Victor ponders a tough decision that the Goodison Park boss may have to make.
Among all the big-money and high-profile deals completed on transfer deadline day, one transfer may have passed you by. Joseph Yobo’s loan move to Fenerbahce may not seem that meaningful or even that interesting to the armchair fan, but it could hold greater significance than you think.
You see, Yobo was David Moyes’ first signing when he joined Everton from Marseille in 2002, on a similar loan-with-a-view-to-buy deal. With Moyes strongly linked with the vacant Aston Villa job, the Nigerian defender could also prove to be the last player to leave Goodison Park during the Scotsman’s tenure. Much has changed during the Nigerian’s eight years on Merseyside, but in many ways a lot has stayed the same.
Moyes brought Yobo to Everton on the back of a successful World Cup, perhaps unaware of the implications the newly-introduced transfer window would have. The deal was tied up fairly swiftly after Yobo’s return from the far east, allowing Moyes to turn his attention to other targets. In fact, after Richard Wright arrived from Arsenal in the last week of July, Everton more or less shut up shop for the summer.
This year many stars of the World Cup in South Africa have been linked with Premier League moves at overinflated prices, culminating in Sunderland forking out an astounding £13million for Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan just fifteen minutes before the close of the window last night. Even Grafite, who failed to deliver for Brazil at the World Cup, was reportedly close to a big-money move to Goodison Park.
The impact of the transfer window is one of many things Moyes has been forced to adjust to since leaving Preston in 2002, and this year the biggest challenge was holding on to the talented young midfielder Jack Rodwell. As is the case with many Premier League managers, Moyes could not rest until the clock ticked past 6:00 and the window slammed shut. This is a far cry from the first deadline day under the current system, where Robbie Keane – who moved from Leeds to Tottenham for £7m – was the only player to command a fee.
While not as action-packed as the 2008 deadline day, and without the shock deals which added to the excitement in 2006, this year’s transfer window continued to represent how the transfer market has changed. This is something which Moyes seems to have adapted to well, with last-minute high-profile deals like those for Marouane Fellaini and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov supplementing a frugally-assembled – yet greatly talented – Everton squad.
Yet for every manager who takes his time to analyse his options and work out how to ‘play’ the transfer market, there is another whose financial clout means he has no need to learn the intricacies of negotiation, or even how to deal with the disappointment of missing out on a target. Everton may have made progress under Moyes in comparison to where they stood before his arrival, but many clubs have leapfrogged them, giving an unfair illusion of stasis.
Back in 2008, Manchester City boss Mark Hughes missed out on David Villa and Dimitar Berbatov, but City’s near-bottomless transfer budget allowed him to lure Robinho to Eastlands. When your back-up option is a £30million-plus striker you don’t need your first choice to come through. Similarly, when West Ham missed out on Aldo Duscher in 2006, they pulled some strings to bring in Javier Mascherano to fill the hole in their midfield, with Carlos Tevez joining to boot. Admittedly neither of those deals panned out quite how those in charge would have hoped, but they demonstrated that while clubs like Everton might need back-up plans, more and more rivals can make do with mere afterthoughts.
Of course, a move to Aston Villa would not necessarily change anything for David Moyes. It has been rumoured that Martin O’Neill left Villa Park due to a lack of transfer funds, suggesting the frustrations experienced by Moyes would only be exacerbated away from Goodison Park. Sure, that is one way of looking at it. Another approach is to understand that Moyes simply wants a fresh start, away from the bad luck which has dogged Everton’s recent league campaigns.
Don’t get me wrong, I would be very surprised to see Moyes trade Everton for a Villa side who are pulling up no more trees than his current employers. But sometimes a sideways move can provide a new lease of life for a manager – just look at Luigi Delneri, who left mid-table Atalanta to join mid-table Sampdoria and instantly led the fallen giants to a top-four finish. There are definite parallels between the two managers, who have both consistently got the best out of unfashionable players, and Moyes may choose to follow the example of Delneri, who has since left Sampdoria to take charge of a Juventus side bolstered by over €50million worth of new signings.
Most managers will have come to realise by now they should be prepared for disappointment when transfer deadline day rolls around, with only those with the biggest budgets able to display anything approaching optimism. But the acknowledgement of this status quo is only a few steps away from accepting that anything other than a move to a Champions League side constitutes failure.
Still, sometimes eight years of ploughing one moderately fruitful furrow will produce a hunger for a new adventure. A move for Moyes would not be borne out of a desire for better resources, but merely out of a desire for better luck.
To read more from Tom Victor visit his excellent blog Pele Confidential by CLICKING HERE